I spent a lot of my time sitting at Baba’s feet. I watched him mix herbs. I saw the way he caressed the leaves and squeezed gently to get the essence of the bark out. It was fascinating watching how he knew that, that required water, the one requiring alcohol and the one needing small heat before it gave out its liquid. There was no measurement container. There was no book he used to see ratio and proportions. His potent worked. Many came from far and near to purchase them.
He had boundaries. He would not do any herb that went beyond healing. Once a group of persons asked him for a charm that would bring wealth. He told them that he was an herbalist. He did not know how to manipulate spirits and karma. The prospective clients left in anger. Another time a lady asked him for charms of love. Again, he declined. That was beyond his skill set. He confessed he did not know how to go beyond herbs for healing.
I might have believed him but for an experience. I accompanied him to the farm one early morning to pick leaves. There were parts of the forest outside our farms that we used to go for pickings. This morning when we were about entering, he took me aside and gave me a leaf to chew. He told me to be bold. As we entered the dense part of the foliage, I felt my head expand with slight chills. We proceeded, then suddenly, I felt a presence. I looked at Baba, he had taken out a gourd. The presence approached Baba, took the gourd and whispered to him. Baba appeared to nod. I was not certain I was not hallucinating or in a trance.
We left the foliage. Funnily I could not ask Baba any questions as we proceeded back home. Getting home, we mixed more herbs and added the substance from the gourd to an herb. I had never seen Baba do that. I also heard him make some muttering. We mixed the other herbs for ailments.
There was a knock on the door. In came three gaily dressed women. Baba attended to them. They signalled my presence. Baba told them that I was old enough. That they should let me be. They spoke about that it was time. Baba agreed. They signalled that the Oba’s aide would come for the mixture. They gave Baba the hug of the initiate. The looked at me and said ‘Welcome”. I wondered what they welcomed me into.
The palace guards came. They asked for Baba. This time Baba drove me out. There was an exchange. I saw an exchange of the mixture that we had used the gourd from the forest for. They knelt before him and said thank you.
That night, Oba’s speakers, announced that all should stay indoors. No one was to go out. The winds howled that night. The darkness was darker than normal. Baba asked me to follow him out. We went to the courtyard. There were 3 apparitions there. Baba took a wrapper, placed it on me with the hide of the exotic antelope that was found only in one part of the jungle. I felt a lifting then my spirit soared. The Oba was there. A mirage of him. All the apparitions knelt and received his soul. He shouted in pain and then he was gone. They wished him well on his journey. I knew the Oba had gone.
The next morning the town criers announced that the Oba had joined his ancestors. He had been bed ridden for a while. I sat down. I looked at the court yard. I saw new things. I saw powers pounding at the mortar. I saw a woman kneeling where we kept the herbs. I saw two Jinni staying on the wall.
I had flown that day. I had joined the club of the distinguished. Baba gave me a pat on the back. He said to me “you have flown now”!